“There was a cartoon a few weeks ago, I forget where, and there was a drawing of someone giving the nightly news and it said, well the news today is that a small band of viscious militants did major damage to a large group of ordinary people. Now the point of the cartoon is it doesn’t say who the small group was and who the big people who this was inflicted on. You can just put it in the way you want it. In short, that is the story of the relation between religion and politics. It’s the same story throughout history. We’re just living through it in its current form…”OpEdNews editor Rob Kall interviews leading religion author Huston Smith.

Indian Muslim women may soon obtain the right to divorce, The New Wind Pressreports, pending decisions made by the All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB), which meets July 4 at Kanpur. A gender bias in the law currently allows a husband to divorce his wife, but the Board’s sole female member, Naseem Iqtidar Ali Khan, is determined to raise the issue, and holds that this is not an unusual demand as it was within the framework of the shariat law.

A Freeport, Illinois woman, Angela Smontes-Vivas, was attacked Saturday night in what may be considered a hate-crime. Smontes-Vivas, an American-born Muslim, was kicked and hit, and had her head scarf pulled off by an 18-year old assailant who made anti-Muslim remarks during the attack. Read more.

We hate too! The Baptist World Alliance says it was “slandered” when the Southern Baptist Convention decided to quit the organization last month for being too “liberal” on issues related to homo- sexuality. Last month, SBC representatives voted at their annual meeting to leave the global federation of Baptist groups. The AP reports that the alliance’s general secretary, Denton Lotz, said his group was misrepresented by the SBC, and that its policy in fact proclaims “‘the biblical definition of the family, a permanent, monogamous, heterosexual union, as the original divine plan for family life.’ Lotz took issue with a talk before the SBC vote by President Paige Patterson of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. Patterson complained of “gay-friendly congregations” in American Baptist Churches, a U.S. denomination of 1.5 million members in the alliance.”

To the dismay of Manisha Prakash, writing for The Times of India, Railway Minister Laloo Prasad Yadav has turned the fate of Indian trains over to Lord Vishwakarma, “God of machines.” “‘Indian Railways is the responsibility of Lord Vishwakarma,'” Laloo told reporters. “‘So is the safety of passengers… It is His duty, not mine. I have been forced to don His mantle…I keep telling Him whatever accident or incident takes place on the tracks is His responsibility.'”

An antiquated Virginia law has accidentally been resurrected by the state’s legislature and governor, The Washington Post’s Michael D. Shear reports, allowing for employees to demand Sundays off as a “day of rest.”

Edith M. Lederer of The Boston Globe reports that the Vatican has upgraded its status within the U.N. General Assembly to that of a permanent observer without a vote. The Vatican now has the rights and privileges as other observers such as the Palestinians. Among these rights: not requiring permission to intervene in debate; the right of reply if attacked; the right to circulate documents among the nations of the General Assembly; and the right to raise points of order and cosponsor draft resolutions that relate to the Holy See.

“‘As the pastor of a local congregation, if I found out that my church membership directory was shared with a campaign or political party, I would begin immediate legal action against the campaign or political party,'” said Rev. Dr. C. Welton Gaddy. Gaddy, president of the liberal Interfaith Alliance, was responding to yesterday’s news of the Bush/Cheney campaign recruitment “duties” assigned to churchgoing supporters. Read more.